Tuesday, July 28, 2009

empire strikes back

By using the RNRL AGM as a platform to put all the relevant facts about the gas row with RIL in public domain, younger bro Anil Ambani seems to be upping the ante. As this morning's TOI and ET both suggest, it is difficult to remember a leading industrialist taking on a union minister in a such a sharply worded manner. First it was his legal counsel Ram Jethmalani who said that the oil ministry is in elder bro Mukesh Ambani's 'pocket' and now Ambani Jr has challenged the oil ministry to take back the oil and gas fields from RIL.

It also needs to be mentioned as the leading papers have stated that Ambani Jr has cleverly made a clear distinction between the government and the errant oil ministry. This obviously stems from a tactical ploy to isolate oil minister Murli Deora in the ruling party. It is clear that Ambani Jr has no bone to pick with the government, but is targeting his ire at his uncle - Murli Kaka. An uncle who in turn is making a distinction between his two nephews Mukesh and Anil. It is well known that Murli Deora was a close confidant of Dhirubhai, but ever since he was elevated to a Cabinet minister's rank and that too in the sensitive oil and gas ministry, he has showered his older nephew with largesse.

Sometime in 2006, oil minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was knocked out in palace coup and Deora with no experience in government was installed in his place. This is what Ambani Jr highlighted at the AGM, detailing a chronology of events which led to the oil ministry and the government in turn becoming a party to what till then was merely a commercial dispute. At the same time, Ambani Jr highlighted how the same government and the power ministry remain unconcerned about NTPC's right over KG Basin gas. NTPC and RIL have what RIL describes as an 'unconcluded' contract and the case is pending in the Bombay High Court.

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